This monograph comprises a review of rice cultivation and land ownership in the Altamaha River delta in coastal Georgia, utilizing as its case study the Butler's Island plantation where, during the antebellum period, over six hundred slaves labored to plant and harvest crops of rice that in some years exceeded one million pounds in production per annum. Much of the book is gleaned from the author's previous writings about coastal Georgia. Chief among these works are Early Days on the Georgia Tidewater: A New Revised Edition (2018), Environmental Influences on Life & Labor in McIntosh County, Georgia (2018) and Sapelo: People and Place on a Georgia Sea Island (2017). The present volume incorporates a review of rice planting methods and techniques, plantation administration, and labor force management from the perspective of its owners, the Butler family of Philadelphia, its resident managers, Roswell King, and his son, Roswell King, Jr., and from that of the enslaved people of Butler's Island themselves as revealed through the writings of, among others, Frances Anne Kemble and her plantation journal compiled during a visit to the Altamaha in the winter of 1839. The story of Butler's Island is carried beyond the Civil War and Emancipation with insights from events in the postbellum period and early twentieth century. The latter portion of the book reviews the other rice plantations in the Altamaha district, with particular emphasis on Hopeton, described in the contemporary literature as "the model plantation of the South," in light of its efficient management by James Hamilton Couper.
Buddy Sullivan is a fourth-generation coastal Georgian. He has researched and written about the history, culture and ecology of coastal Georgia for 35 years. He is the author of 22 books and monographs and is in frequent demand as a lecturer on a variety of historical topics. He is a recipient of the Governor's Medal in the Humanities from the Georgia Humanities Council in recognition of his literary and cultural contributions to the state. Sullivan's books include Georgia: A State History (2003) for the Georgia Historical Society, and two comprehensive histories, Early Days on the Georgia Tidewater (revised and expanded 2018), for McIntosh County, and From Beautiful Zion to Red Bird Creek (2000), for Bryan County. The latter volume received the Georgia Historical Society's Hawes Award for Georgia's outstanding work of local history. In addition to the current monograph, his most recent books are A Georgia Tidewater Companion: Essays, Papers and Some Personal Observations on 30 Years of Research in Coastal Georgia History (2014), Sapelo: People and Place on a Georgia Sea Island (2017), Environmental Influences on Life & Labor in McIntosh County, Georgia (2018), Thomas Spalding, Antebellum Planter of Sapelo, Life & Labor on Butler's Island: Rice Cultivation in the Altamaha Delta, and Darien, Georgia: A History. Sullivan has contributed 12 articles to the online New Georgia Encyclopedia, and wrote the coastal chapter for The New Georgia Guide (1996). He was director of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve from 1993 to 2013 and is now an independent writer and consultant living on his ancestral land overlooking the marshes and waters of Cedar Point, in McIntosh County.